Friday, May 29, 2015

Israeli prof. escapes with reprimand over long term sexual relationship with student

update BBC News  [....] Prof Shamir said, "I know I represent a very tiny minority. I am post-Zionist; I think Zionism in its current phase has to come to terms with the tragic consequences of its project. For example, the Palestinian problem. We need to share this land full and genuinely. Until we do, we will be in a state of war. You don't need to be a prophet to see this."


Tel Aviv University has reprimanded a professor for unbecoming conduct for his intimate relationship with a student who at one point sought to drop the case after she received emails offering her “protection.”

In the 40 pages of the ruling posted on an internal Tel Aviv University website, significant chunks are deleted, not just personal details, making the case all the more complex.

It’s a story of a relationship between Prof. Ronen Shamir of the university’s sociology and anthropology department, and one of his female students, identified as S.

The student, who at one point moved in with the professor, filed a sexual harassment complaint after he reportedly broke off the relationship, but she later retracted the charge and sought to have the disciplinary proceedings halted.

The university pursued the complaint anyway, leading to a ruling that Shamir was guilty on two counts of unbecoming conduct, not sexual harassment. Despite the university’s request that Shamir be forced into early retirement, two of the three judges on the disciplinary panel opted for a reprimand, surprising some people at the university.

The ruling ended an investigation and proceedings that lasted four years. Shamir was also barred from serving as an administrator at the university for five years. He had been department chairman, but had stepped down by the time of the ruling.[...]

According to the ruling, Shamir began courting S. - an Arab student - during her first year in the department. Initially she is said to have rebuffed his advances, but ultimately agreed to go to a show with him.

Later they began living together in Shamir’s Tel Aviv home. Shamir did not report this to anyone at the university, even though a short time after the couple’s relationship began, the university published regulations barring teachers from “intimate relations with a student if there are ties of academic authority between them.”

According to the regulations, the faculty member is the one responsible for avoiding such a relationship, or be subject to possible disciplinary action.

After the relationship had lasted a year, Shamir broke off his ties with S., but she told several faculty members about the relationship and filed a complaint with the university’s commissioner for sexual harassment complaints, Prof. Rachel Erhard. [...]

Sources at the university relate that there is disappointment about the punishment. “We wanted him not to work here any longer,” said one person. “The bottom line is not good at all. Faculty members have known about him for years, the whole world knew – and in the end that is the result. We felt very frustrated in face of the ruling.”

A faculty member told Haaretz: “I thought there should have been a more significant punishment. I have no doubt that what she said initially is the truth of the matter and what she said afterwards is not. The ruling implies that he did grave things, no matter what you call it  — and it’s ended with a punishment that is a joke. At least it merits publication.”

A senior official at the university says: “The judges say there wasn’t sexual harassment but under the regulations in the context of the unequal power relations she was not required to say she did not agree. The law says that the fact that he pursued her is sexual harassment. They interpreted this very leniently – it’s baffling.” [...]              

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